Pop star wins right to contest Haiti poll
February 5, 2011
PORT-AU-PRINCE: Haiti's presidential run-off election will pit a popular singer and political novice against a former first lady with a record of political opposition, election officials have announced.
Michel ''Sweet Micky'' Martelly, 49, was chosen over Jude Celestin, 48, the government-backed candidate, to compete for the presidency on March 20.
the former first lady Mirlande Manigat, 70, was set to be one of the two candidates in the run-off after preliminary results of a disputed election in November showed her in first place.
''We're here to tell the world that a new day has dawned on Haiti, one that brings hope and change,'' Martelly, a popular singer, said hours after the election commission announced on Thursday that it had reversed the earlier result.
''This is a victory for the people,'' he said. ''The voice of the people was heard.''
Martelly thanked the international community for pressing for Mr Celestin, President Rene Preval's hand-picked protégé, to be pulled from the race.
The disputed initial results show that Mr Celestin finished second, with just 7000 votes more than Martelly.
However, international monitors from the Organisation of American States found significant vote-rigging and fraud in favour of Mr Celestin, and Washington led international calls to drop him from the run-off.
Mr Preval and Mr Celestin have disputed the organisation's report, and last week Mr Celestin's lawyers unsuccessfully challenged it.
The US and the United Nations welcomed the election commission's announcement, saying they hoped it would clear the way for a more stable political climate and allow international aid efforts to be stepped up.
Haiti is still reeling from last year's earthquake that killed more than 220,000 people and left 1.3 million homeless, and has been battling a deadly cholera epidemic.